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A Persian excursion

July 31, 2009

persianstuffOne of the best reasons for having a proper food writer as a friend is joining them for the spontaneous suburban sojourn in search of a particular dish or ingredient. The Empress took me the other day to Auburn in the mid-west of Sydney, where all things Persian, Afghan, Turkish & Lebanese can be found (and where the Gallipoli Mosque is a feature).

As DrDi wrote recently, it’s very cool for we postcode-centric Sydneysiders to take a trip along the discovery highway to an unvisited suburb – and the Empress is the gal to do it with. Our trip was a short sharp operation but chock full of discoveries for me. First stop was a great restaurant for lunch, where among the delights was an an eggplant dip to die for called Kashk-e bademjan; I devoured the lot and got an extra tub for takeaway.

After that we popped into a Persian supermarket where we filled our shopping bags with these goodies: green raisins, dried sour cherries, barberries and slivered pistachios. The shop guys and we managed to cross the language barrier with the aid of some friendly other customers, which was a very nice part of the encounter.

I haven’t used any of these staples of Persian cooking yet, and have never seen those ruby-red barberries or the chewy black and very tart sour cherries before, but plan to have a go very soon at a polow – a Persian pilaf, basically, which apparently has a lovely crusty bottom.

I’ve checked out some polow recipes with barberries here and with sour cherries here and here and here.

But I’m also thinking that both of these would be delicious chucked into any tagine or, as I found after taking this photograph, just eaten as a little dried-fruit mix from a bowl.

Years ago when making the divine mast-o khiar – a yoghurt & cucumber dip with walnuts, green raisins & rose petals (and another recipe here)  I had the devil’s own job finding green raisins, and now I know they’re everywhere in any Middle-Eastern suburb I feel a bit of a dill for buying them from these elegant and expensive packagers (although their stuff is top quality, so if you can’t get near a Persian supermarket, they are worth a shot online).

And as for my plans for the pistachios, well obviously the list is endless. But apart from Karen Martini’s quite incredible baked lemon and goat’s curd cheesecake with pistachios (from Where the Heart Is, but Stonesoup has an adaptation here – scroll down to find it), I have just come across this delicious-sounding pistachio dukkah which sounds a very fine idea.

Now, off to Culburra for the weekend with a bunch of food-crazy friends. Will return fatter and more recipe-laden than ever next week…

4 comments

  1. Oooh, we got married at a beach house in Culburra – lucky you, say hello to those windy dunes for me!

    I love that photo… it all looks so simple and perfect, those tiny tasty treats… I’m particularly partial to the idea of those very tart dried sour cherries, and Auburn is next on the out-and-about hit list, if for no other reason than I just like the idea of being able to put ‘Persian’ in a sentence. Oh, to be ‘Persian.’ So glamorous.


  2. […] her – the Western Orient in Hurstville. It’s loads of fun going on these excursions (as we’ve discussed before, it’s so easy to get geographically locked into your own tiny suburban area of this city), […]


  3. […] a handful of currants in the larder but lots of barberries, the tart little rubies I found on our Persian excursion the other week, so I threw them in instead, which doubtless bumped up the sour/tart factor.  I also threw in some […]


  4. […] 21, 2009 at 3:01 am (Uncategorized) Ever since Charlotte’s Persian Excursion on How to Shuck an Oyster, I’ve been hankering for Halal, informing Llewie a while back that […]



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